Friday, June 15, 2007

Recruiting Board: Underrated 2008 Prospects

A small sample of underrated California kids who want to be Bulldogs and/or receiving attention from Fresno State. Players featured, Napa RB Jake Croxdale, Mantenca RB Adam Espinoza, Del Campo RB Anthony Gobern, RB/LB AJ Corbella, CB Jeff Johnson, QB John Manoogian and FB Casey Cotta.

For complete highlight videos on each and related articles visit and click on FB Recruiting.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pre-Season Publications: Lost in Translation

by NSC

Every summer college football fans are forced to endure the release of pre-season publications. Each of these so called “Insider” publications releases their rankings on every single college football team in the nation. More often than not the BCS schools reap the benefits of magazines that compile these rankings. Last year you could not find one magazine that had Boise State in the top five to end the season. In 2004 there would not be one magazine that ranked Utah in their top five before the season started. Yesterday Athlon released their projections on the 2007 football season. Picking Fresno State to finish fifth in the WAC did not surprise me in the least. I understand why Athlon feels Fresno State will be no better than 7-5. Fresno State is coming off of a 4-8 season and that alone will give the Dogs very little chance to begin the season in the top half of the WAC with respect to magazine predictions. While I can’t say picking us to finish fifth surprises me I will say the way they ranked the WAC with respect to position players makes little sense at all. That is why I called this article Lost in Translation, because 90% of the time there is absolutely no way to explain why the magazines rank teams the way they do.

If you take a look at Athlon’s publication you will notice they rank the Fresno State defensive line as the second best unit in the WAC. That leads me to believe that either the WAC has the worst set of defensive lines in the nation or Athlon sees something in this defensive line that I don’t. I realize we have some skilled players on the line but that by far is the one area that completely lacks any depth and has relatively small size. Aside Shirley there isn’t a run stopper in the group and for Fresno State’s defensive line to be successful they are going to have to have some unsung players step up and make a difference. At the same time somehow this publication feels our LB’s are in the bottom three of the WAC. With players such as Riley and Brown the LB’s have more speed than they have ever possessed leading me to believe that Athlon did not do any research to garner their results. But the point I really want to get across here is the fact that the magazines and their predictions mean absolutely nothing. Each and every single one of you Fresno State fans could come up with just as valid a rankings system as a Lindy’s, Athlon’s and so on. The way to do so is grab a hat. Take the hat and place nine pieces of paper with the following names on them: Nevada, SJSU, Fresno State, Hawaii, La. Tech, Boise State, NMSU, Idaho, and Utah State. Take the hat and shake it around really well. When you are finished shaking put your hand in the hat and remove your first piece of paper. To show how awful these publications are I actually picked the WAC in the manner I just explained. Here is how the pieces of paper came out of the hat:

1) Hawaii
2) Boise State
3) Fresno State
4) San Jose State
5) La. Tech
6) Nevada
8) Utah State
9) Idaho

Now take a look at that list I just published. How do most of you feel about that finish in the WAC? You know how much research I did to come up with that predicted finish? I did absolutely no research nor did I use any system to come up with this predicted order of finish. Instead I used dumb luck and I think I came up with a much better finish than Athlon did, but I will leave that up to everyone who reads the FSFB to decide.

Pre-season rankings are a joke and they always will be. The major corporations that publish these magazines do all they can to cater to the BCS schools because they know if they put USC #1 that they will make a much larger amount of money when the USC fans decide to go out and buy every magazine they can find. Although I do feel the Trojans will be the #1 school in the nation this season the same would occur if #1 were Michigan, Florida, or any other big time program from a BCS conference. To rank a school #1 before it has played a game is asinine yet that is exactly what we have become accustomed to in the college football world. Here’s an idea to counter the rankings that are released before the season begins. Let’s take those rankings and pretend they don’t exist. Let’s sit back and watch college football for the first six games of the season. When those six games are over we then take the team’s performances on the field and rank them accordingly. Two weeks later we release the first BCS rankings and go from there. Every other sport in the world ranks their teams before the season begins but that is absolutely acceptable. The reason is every other sport has a playoff to decide the champion. College football gives a team ranked #1 to begin the season a decisive edge over any other team to play in the national championship game. As long as we allow companies such as Athlon to continue ranking teams well before the season begins the college football landscape will never change. Although they placed Fresno State fifth do remember one thing about our beloved Bulldogs: We play far better as an underdog than we ever did as the favorites.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Adversity; What Truly Defines an Athlete

by NSC

Last night something amazing took place in the world of the NBA. Lebron James embarked on a mission to will his team to victory in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. James scored an amazing 29 of the final 30 points for the Cavaliers as they left Detroit with a 109-107 victory in double overtime. Although we have seen amazing performances in the National Basketball Association before from the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and other such greats what Lebron James did last night was truly unprecedented. The reason this type of accomplishment had not be seen was due to the amount of adversity that James faced heading into this game. In game one James passed up a layup in order to give Donyell Marshall a chance to win the game with a three. In game two James could not hit the game winner putting his team in a 0-2 hole. The nation began to wonder if James could come through in the clutch. The nation began to question James under pressure and if he even wanted the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Last night with two minutes remaining the announcers of the game even went as far as to state “Will James call for the ball with the game on the line after missing his last two free throws?” The answer would be a resounding yes. You may ask what does this have to do with Fresno State Football. If you take a closer look this has everything to do with the Bulldogs and the 2007 football season.

Heading into the 2007 season Fresno State will face more adversity than they may be used to. There are so many questions about this team that have to be answered. We as fans do not know if our QB position is going to be fixed. We do not know if the defensive secondary is going to step their game up. We do not know if the defensive line is going to become that dominant force it once was. We do not know if the wide receivers are going to return to form and lead this team on the field of play. We do not know if our special teams are going to come together again to create one of the strongest units in the nation with the ability to change the outcome of the game with one play. Will the coaches step their game up and focus on what we need to do to win? Will Pat Hill open up his playbook and allow the offense more freedom within itself to create? Will Hill divert play-calling to McElwain or will he continue to call the offense the way he feels is best? With so many questions abound there is no way to ignore the adversity this team faces. However, these questions can all be answered sooner than later.

We as fans want to believe that Brandstater will become the QB we all know he can be. He has shown us that he has what could be the strongest arm to ever don a Fresno State jersey. He has shown us that he has the size and the ability to take the lead of this team. What he has not shown us is the maturity to understand the game. He has not put faith in us that he can take over a game when we so desperately need him to. Brandstater will have to face his own adversity in order to lead this team to victory this season. He has taken more abuse from fans than most players do during their career at Fresno State and he still has two seasons before he is finished. However, if Brandstater can forget what has happened in the past and face the demons that have commonly haunted him during the season he will be able to make each and every one of us forget our tragic 2006 season. Brandstater needs to realize he has an opportunity that many players take advantage of. How many times have you seen a player have a terrible season only to rebound and show that he truly is far better than the season he just showed us? It happens in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA more often than you may realize. Brandstater will have this opportunity just as the rest of the Fresno State football team will.

The defense needs to revert back to pre 2005 form. In 2004 the Bulldogs defense terrorized each team they stepped on the field with. Ask Darren Sproles of K-State what he thought of the 2004 defense. Ask Virginia what they thought of the 2004 defense. The one they will both mention is the speed that the defense was able to bring to the table. In 2007 the Bulldogs will have the opportunity to put that speed back on the field and they have to answer the call this season. The speed needs to be translated into turnovers that will help put the offense back on a short field. The adversity the defense faces is nothing new, but unlike 2006 this defense will be much more prepared to handle whatever is thrown at them due to the speed that they have added to the LB’s and secondary. The WR’s will be facing ghosts of their own as well. As Fresno State fans we realize that we need the receivers to step up and make things easier on the QB. With players such as West, Pascoe, Ajirotutu, Moore, and Crawley the Bulldogs have the players in place to give our QB that help. Whether they step up or not is up to them. Each one of these man can make a difference on the field of play, but they have to have the drive to do so.

What it all comes down to is the adversity each of these athletes face. Many players break down when the world comes down hard on them. Many athletes cannot handle the pressure of a game being put on their shoulders. The athletes of the Fresno State football team will have the opportunity to show the nation that they will not back down from whatever adversity is thrown their way. Whether 2007 is a success or not is up to the Bulldogs that step on the field of play. The only way the Bulldogs will be able to answer their adversity is to ignore what has happened in the past. The future holds an opportunity for the Bulldogs football team. The Bulldogs have a chance to start over and conquer their own adversity, and if the Bulldogs perform anywhere near how Lebron James did last night on a national stage we will all be in for a very entertaining 2007 football season.